אסדה קידוח גז לווייתן
Israel's Leviathan gas rig
Photo: AP
Israel's Leviathan gas rig

Israel signs gas deal with Egypt, becomes major energy exporter

With expected boon, Israel plans to wean itself off coal and potentially revolutionize its economy, potentially aided by EU as it aims to reduce dependence on Russian gas with new delivery routes, something that could also curtail Iranian ambitions to use Syria as gateway to Mediterranean

Associated Press |
Published: 12.16.19 , 21:08
Israel became a major energy exporter for the first time on Monday after signing a permit to export natural gas to Egypt.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter
  • The announcement comes just days before Israel's lucrative Leviathan gas field in the Mediterranean Sea is expected to go online.
    אסדה קידוח גז לווייתןאסדה קידוח גז לווייתן
    Israel's Leviathan gas rig
    (Photo: AP)
    Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz called the permit a “historic landmark” for Israel. He said it’s the most significant economic cooperation project between the neighboring countries since they signed a peace deal in 1979.
    With the expected gas boon, Israel plans to wean itself off coal and potentially revolutionize its economy.
    The European Union, seeking to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, has encouraged the formation of new delivery routes, including through the eastern Mediterranean. These routes could also curtail Iranian ambitions to use Syria as a gateway to the Mediterranean.
    “The natural gas revolution turns us into an energy power and affords us not just huge income for the country but also a dramatic decrease in air pollution,” Steinitz said.
    Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz
    Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz
    (Photo: Dror Sithakol)
    But Israel’s focus on its newfound gas reserves over the past decade has faced stiff domestic criticism from environmental and social welfare activists.
    They say the government has been too generous toward the gas tycoons behind the exploration, and that the massive investment has steered resources away from focusing on renewable energy sources.
    More recently, local activists have been urging Israel’s Delek Drilling and its U.S. partner, Noble Energy, to move a proposed shoreline treatment gas rig farther out to sea.
    The activists fear what they call the catastrophic consequences of spreading toxic water and air pollution toward their homes.
    Delek, Noble, and the government insist that the most stringent safety measures have been put in place, and accuse their critics of waging an irresponsible scare campaign.
    הפגנה בכיכר הבימה בתל אביב נגד הרחקת אסדות הגז הטבעיהפגנה בכיכר הבימה בתל אביב נגד הרחקת אסדות הגז הטבעי
    Israeli activists protest gas drilling at sea
    (Photo: Renana Shenhav)
    Aside from the economic benefits, the promise of gas appears to have helped Israel grow closer to Arab governments and other Mediterranean countries.
    Israel signed a $15 billion deal last year to provide Egypt with 64 billion cubic meters of gas over a 10-year period that will help transform both into regional energy players.
    In January, Egypt hosted its first-ever regional gas forum. Steinitz attended alongside several regional delegations, the first such visit by an Israeli cabinet member since Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring uprising.
    Although past economic agreements with Israel have been controversial in Egypt, where support for the Palestinians runs high, relations have been steadily warming.
    First published: 21:08 , 12.16.19
    Talkbacks for this article 0